She’s gone, and the world is a substantially worse place than it was.

I miss Stephanie, yeah. But much more to the point, she’s not here. She’s not anywhere. There’s nothing left of her but photos and ashes and recipe cards, old clothes and odd mementos. Every molecule that fired the neurons of her brain is elsewhere now, doing other things.

Everything she cared about, she doesn’t care any more. All the jokes she would’ve cracked will remain uncracked forever. All the insight she offered every day, will never again be offered. The kooky slang we had between is us a language no-one will ever speak again. When I glance into the bedroom as I walk down the hall, it’s only the bed, and she’s not in it.

Everything she was, everything that made her such a delight to me — the shape of her smile, the speck in her eye, the crack in her voice when she cried, the sound of her laughter, the scent of the crook of her elbow, all the easy conversations, all of her laughter, all of her dreams, all of her memories and passions, all of her accomplishments and failures, all of her fears, all her insecurities, all of her worries, all of her joy, all of her plans, all that she was or ever could have been — all of it is gone.

Once, when we were living in California, she flew back to Wisconsin to attend a friend’s wedding, so for three days and two nights we weren’t together. With only that exception, for more than two decades we were together every day and every night of our lives. And it was marvelous. And it’s over.

The woman who gave me all those years of her life, willingly and wonderfully, is irrevocably gone. That is sadder, more hollow and achy and awful than anything I’ve ever experienced or imagined.

Just — gone. She’ll never know how the Game of Thrones books end. She’ll never again pet the cat. She won’t whip up her renowned shrimpy-noodles, or anything else. She won’t poke fun at me for being hard-of-hearing, or for un-ironically using ancient words like “knickerbockers.” She’ll never finish her latest needlepoint project. She won’t ask me to dance, or challenge me on the lightning round of Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me. She won’t play any of her video games, many of which she casually called “Run-Girlie-Run.” She won’t reminisce about college, or her trip to Russia, or living in San Francisco. She won’t re-watch All About Eve or The Women for the hundredth time. She won’t read about the latest insanity from Donald Trump and mutter under her breath. She won’t stroll or roll with me at Olbrich Gardens. She won’t leave a shopping list for me in the morning. No more pontoon rides on the lake. No more nothing. Stephanie is a memory. A very, very wonderful memory, but entirely in the past.

So, yeah, the world is worse than it was. A lot worse.

And please don’t tell me she’s in a better place. She’s not. She’s no place at all. Stephanie and I were basically agreed that there’s no Heaven, no Hell, no Limbo where we’ll meet again. No purgatory, no paradise, no Nirvana. There’s no reincarnation, and we don’t believe in fairy tales. There’s only here, and not here, and she is not here.

It’s time to take another walk, and have another cry.

Posted 9/13/2018.

More about Stephanie.


2 thoughts on “Gone.

  1. You do not know me but please except my deepest condolences for the loss of your true love, Stephanie. My husband died July 8, but was really no longer here four days before he exhaled his last breath. I am still crying after reading your beautiful tribute to your wife because everything you say rings true for me. They are gone and we are alone with our grief and sadness. Spreading my husband’s ashes helped bring some peace. He is on his way down the Wisconsin River back to his home along the Mississippi in Illinois. Anyway, I like to believe that because it makes me feel better. Doug, breathe and take one day at a time. Take care.


  2. I didn’t know you five minutes ago, but I know you now, and I’m glad that I do. Condolences for your husband, and consider yourself hugged so hard it hurts.

    I’m breathing and taking one day at a time, as you’ve suggested, and I hope you’re taking your own good advice too. To my thinking, this is all a journey I never wanted to take, but who would? It’s a crappy journey. But I’m tough enough to make it through, and survive and maybe thrive. And so are you.


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